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School Days, School Days, Good Old Golden Award For Top Magazine Sales Days


Son the elder has begun his first year of “free public school.” Schools are ways for societies to pass on the values and knowledge that their members have agreed are important to eventually being a functioning adult member of that society. Here in southern California he’s learning to be a salesman.
His first product is magazine subscriptions. Before he’d had two full weeks of school, the sales team leader, I mean principal, had called a sales meeting, I mean assembly, to pump up her half-sized magazine sales force. At the end of the day, all the little kindergarten kids were walking out of class poring over brochures showing the prizes they could win. All during his first weekend as a salesman, every time we met someone, my son’s greeting was, “Hello, do you want to buy a magazine?”
Since we in the suburbs believe not only in neighborliness but also that a certain number of our neighbors are likely to be meth-lab operating pedophiles, the sales materials told the kids, or their parents if the kids can’t read, to hit up friends and family, rather than go door to door.
That means that if it’s a burden for your family to shell out money for magazines you probably don’t want or you would have ordered them already (all right, you can also renew what you already have), you’re out of luck on receiving the sales prize junk. One of the sales prizes is an ice cream party, which you can attend if you sell six magazines—about a hundred bucks worth or so. I don’t know what they do with the kids who haven’t sold six while the party’s going on: maybe make them do school maintenance, like washing the windows so they can peer in at the ice cream eaters.
Here’s one place President Bush’s entrepreneurial ownership society is working, with 5-year-olds. Those kids will learn a fine lesson about hard work when they see who gets the ice cream. No more slackers in this elementary school.
Magazines are just the start. At another sales meeting, the team leader mentioned t-shirt sales and a jog-a-thon are coming. I’m guessing when it gets cold all the kids will be outfitted with size extra-extra-short trench coats with straps sewn inside to display fake Rolexes and Seikos for sale.
But it’s not all sales. There are plenty of direct requests too for money and time. In the kid’s first days of school, we were asked to give money to join the parent-staff organization, to attend a fund-raising cocktail party, to save boxtops, to volunteer with the classroom and to volunteer with the school. As the school’s fundraising brochure, which suggests a donation of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00—count them zeros) per child per year is appropriate, says: “Incorrect Assumption: Public Education is Free.”
We are very lucky. There are enough people in the area donating enough time and money to help turn out a school that is well-regarded–and that helps keep up the property values, besides of course whatever it does for the kids, so who could ask for more?
See, California schools don’t really get much money for “extras” like buses and music and art and science and libraries and gym and computers, so the parents have to work for it. I’m a bit too new to being a schoolkid’s parent to invoke full cranky mode—yet—but blogger Spanglemonkey, who has a few more years as a mother of schoolkids than I do, nailed what seems to me a reasonable parent’s point of view on all this giving and volunteering: we do it because we love our kids, but Gov. Schwarzenegger—there’s a bill to be paid.
Not that I like paying taxes any more than the next cranky citizen. But there is stuff that we as a society need to value and support, or we’re not living up to the possibilities of a modern society and we might as well all go huddle around the feudal lord and be stinky and eat potato tops or something. Because we’ve seen a terrible example in New Orleans of what happens when we don’t make and support priorities for collective needs.
Don’t believe that we simply should educate everyone? Well, what about the enlightened self-interest argument? Sure, if you’re rich, you can send your kid to a great school. But you can’t send all the people he needs to work in the business he’s going to inherit to a great school. Or send all the people who will need jobs to be customers of the companies that make up her trust fund stock portfolio to great schools.
One thing I learned in my public school days that actually stuck with me because it’s as catchy as it gets in world history, is that the Holy Roman Empire was none of the three. (Not holy, Roman or an empire, get it? Unfortunately I can’t tell you anything else about it, but that could get me through a brief dinner party, I figure.) So, free public schools shouldn’t be like the Holy Roman Empire. Get it? Well, at least they are schools still, sort of. Anyway, that’s my new slogan.
In the meantime, want to buy a magazine?

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 12:19 AM | Permalink

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